Feminists tried to convince young women that we can, should, and must have it all – husband, kids, and career. We’ve wised up and the statistics indicate that young women are able to recognize that life is full of trade-offs and priorities – starting a family being one of them for many of us.
A new Washington Post poll demonstrates just how many young people are making choices that, at least temporarily, trade career advancement for family. Three quarters of mothers and half of fathers in this country say they’ve forgone a new job, switched jobs, or quit a job to spend more time bringing up children.
Another factor could be the accelerating costs of childcare relative to wages that is driving some parents to make this choice. According to Census data over the past 30 years, the average weekly child care expenses have surged 70 percent from $78 to $148. Of course, that’s a national average, and costs vary significantly across regions, states, and cities.
Parents feel this pinch: some 74 percent of mothers said the paid cost of child care is very or somewhat expensive compared to only 12 percent which say it’s not too expensive or not at all expensive. Even fewer fathers (7 percent) polled say child care is not too expensive or not at all expensive.
The Washington Post reports:
Politicians are beginning to seize on the politics of child care, with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton staking out the issue as central to middle-class stagnation. Advocates on the left want more public funding for high-quality care. Those on the right, weary of more government spending, would rather see tax breaks for businesses that cater to parental needs.
When asked which party they trust to handle the matter, 43 percent pick Democrats, while 22 percent of Americans choose Republicans, according to the poll. Nearly one-fifth of the public, however, said they lack faith that either party could reduce the stresses of working parents.
Fifty-one percent endorse federal requirements to give employees more flexibility in their work schedule to care for children, while 42 percent think businesses should be allowed to decide how much flexibility to offer.
Parents tilt more clearly in favor of mandates, with 56 percent saying the government should require more flexibility and 39 percent asserting otherwise.
Most parents say they are fine with the flexibility offered by their employers to schedule time for their children. Among those who worked after having their first child, two-thirds say they were satisfied with the flexibility in their work schedule to care for their children.
But working mothers report less satisfaction with their employer-set schedules than working fathers; 59 percent said they were pleased, compared with 76 percent of dads. More than 6 in 10 mothers said they have had to quit a job or switch to a less-challenging one to allow more time for their children, compared with fewer than 4 in 10 fathers.
It comes as no surprise that progressives seek to use concerns over childcare costs or career choices that involve taking time out of the workforce to promote more government intrusion and mandates to divert more money to supposed solutions for this problem. Hillary Clinton springs to mind. Shouldn’t we be able to negotiate directly for what makes sense for each individual worker–and based on what we are worth to our employer? Why should older workers or those who have no kids suffer as their employers potentially cut staff or wages to meet federal mandates on paying for childcare?
But the problem may be different for younger women. It’s not surprising that millennial women are giving birth to the fewest babies of any generation in our nation’s history. If not for immigration, we’d be losing more people each year than replacing them through child birth. This is a problem in and of itself for a society whose entitlement programs require a growing population. But it is typical that in trying to solve problems progressives often look to the past rather than what is happening now.
We've lately seen a number of highly profitable companies (Netflix, Microsoft, and Adobe) expanding paternal and paternal paid leave. This is great as long as it is voluntary and the companies can afford to do it and stay afloat. These new programs should not be used to impose regulations on companies that cannot afford this generosity and keep people employed.